If you have kids, then odds are you’ve downloaded more than your fair share of coloring book apps for your iOS devices.

While these digital replacements of the real thing are fun, keep your kids attention and are perfect for maintaining quiet in a waiting room or in a car, there is a limit to just how imaginative your kids can be and are a very sedentary activity. Cobypic changes all that, improving on the coloring book experience by getting your kids off the couch and actively exploring the world around them, burning off that excess energy.

Cobypic (which is short for color-by-picture) is set up in a paint by number style format, except without the numbers. Kids are presented with a blank picture and colored circles at the bottom representing the colors they need for the picture. Depending on the image, there could be anywhere from a couple to eight or more colors needed to complete a picture. Tapping on one of these colored circles launches the camera, at which point the player is encouraged to ‘find’ the necessary color in the world around them and capture it using the iDevice’s camera. While in the camera view, a simple set of kid-friendly controls are available allowing for shrinking or enlarging the field of view (which is cutely represented as a pair of intersecting hands, much like a child or cinematographer would use to frame a pretend photo in real life) and some options for adjusting the lens and flash. Snap the picture, and you’ve captured that color.

Emily loves running around our house, finding the colors to take pictures of, especially when the object is textured, which shows up nicely and adds a unique look to the finished picture. You don’t know exactly where each particular color is going to appear in the picture (unless you’ve colored that picture before), which adds to the fun. Before capturing each color Emily and I like to make predictions of where we think the new will show up and she delights in seeing which of us is correct each time. If you are unhappy with the captured picture, you can quickly and easily just tap on the color again and take another.

It took one or two pictures for Emily to get the hang of it, then there was no stopping her as she raced about the house (with me in tow) on a ‘hunt for colors’. Her favorite pink blanket became the ballerina’s skin color, she colored a ladybug using her ladybug Pillow Pet (how meta). Occasionally she had a little difficulty distinguishing between the red/skin tone/orange colors in the program, but you don’t have to strictly follow the colors shown. In fact the developer encourages kids to experiment, if it asks you to capture green, but your favorite color is purple, then snap something purple instead and see what crazy picture results from it. There are three copies of each picture, so you don’t have to erase what you already captured to try something completely new, and if you have multiple kids, each can color it their own way.

In Conclusion

Cobypic is a creative and fun way to get your kids up and about and exploring the world around them, even if it just happens to be your family room on a rainy day. Every time Emily plays with the app, she has an ear to ear grin as she excitedly uses her iPod Touch’s camera to capture the colors of her favorite toys and everyday objects to see them magically transform Cobypic’s black and white pictures. This is a brilliant new take on the traditional coloring book app, a perfect and creative use of the strengths of the iOS platform. Both Emily and I highly recommend it!

The 99¢ paid version of the app comes with thirteen books of pictures to color for a total of over 60 pictures (including some new Halloween-themed ones) to color across a wide variety of subjects. There is also a free version available with a limited number of pictures.

Grab your own copy of Cobypic using the links below: